View-through conversion tracking in Google Analytics

This articles is related to Attribution modelling in Google Analytics.

If you are brand new to Attribution Modelling then I would suggest to read this article first: Beginners Guide to Google Analytics Attribution Modeling.

I introduced the concept of view-through conversions in the article: Understanding view-through conversions in Google Adwords and explained in great detail, how and when such conversions are recorded and reported.

In the present article, I am going to explain, how these conversions can be tracked in Google Analytics.

Importance of view-through conversions

Not all people click on display ads after viewing them.

But this does not mean that they are not impacted by such ads at all, that display advertising play no role in influencing the buying behavior of your customers.

However, when it comes to measuring the impact of display advertising in driving conversions, we just can’t rely on faith or ‘correlation is causation’ theory.

We need data.

Traditional tracking solutions (including standard Google Analytics) can measure and report ad impressions but they are not very good in tying these impressions to conversions.

If we could know, how ad impressions are driving conversions, what role do they play in a conversion path, we would be in a better position to understand the performance of display advertising esp. in the event where there is little to no ad clicks data available.

The ad impression which result in a conversion is called impression conversion or view-through conversion.

Google records and report view through conversions only for Google Display Network (GDN) ads and YouTube video ads.

It does not record and report view through conversions for search network ads.

When a user view GDN ad or YouTube video ad but does not click it and then later visit your website to complete a conversion, then such type of conversion can be reported as ‘view-through’ conversion.

Introduction to Google Display Network (GDN) Impression Reporting

view through conversions

You can see view-through conversions data in your Google Analytics multi-channel funnel reports via GDN impression reporting feature.

Through GDN impression reporting, advertisers can measure the impact of unclicked but viewed GDN ads (display ad impressions) in driving conversions.

The GDN impression reporting is available only for non-text GDN display ads (which includes rich media ads) and is available only in Google Analytics multi-channel funnels reports.

Criteria for using GDN Impression Reporting

In order to use GDN impression reporting, following conditions must be met first:

#1 You have got an active adwords account through which you are running Google display network campaigns.

#2 Conversion tracking is implemented in your Adwords account.

#3 Your adwords account is linked to your GA premium account.

#4 You use DoubleClick Campaign Manager (formerly known as Doubleclick for advertisers or DFA) or DoubleClick Bid Manager (DBM)

#5 Conversion tracking and/or ecommerce tracking is implemented in your GA premium account.

#6 Your Google Analytics Tracking code supports display advertising.

#7 Your privacy policy clearly tells your website users, that you use GDN impression reporting (not a technical requirement but required according to Google policy)

How to enable GDN impression reporting

The GDN impression reporting needs to be enabled before it can be used.

It is not available by default even if you are using GA premium.

Also GDN impression reporting is not available to all.

There used to be a way to get access to this reporting by requesting Google, to whitelist your GA account.

But that ability is long gone now.

The impression reporting now is available only to GA premium customers who either use Doubleclick campaign Manager or Doubleclick Bid Manager.(DBM).

double click campaign manager

Just using GA premium is not enough to become eligible for GDN impression reporting.

You also need to use either DFA or DBM, as far as I know. 

Once you have met the criteria for using GDN impression reporting, contact your GA premium/360 account manager and ask him to link your DCM/DBM account to your Google analytics account and activate the GDN impression reporting.  

GDN impression data in Multi Channel Funnels reports

Once the GDN impression reporting is enabled, you will see following new features in your multi-channel funnel reports:

#1 The multi channel funnel overview report will start showing:

  • Click Assisted Conversions
  • Impression Assisted Conversions and
  • Rich Media Assisted Conversions

instead of Assisted Conversions:

gdn impression reporting

Note: In the screenshot above, 66,758 conversions represent last click conversions which can include both Goal Conversions and Ecommerce Transactions.

Here,

Click Assisted Conversions – it is the number of conversions in which non-text display ad click assisted.

Impression Assisted Conversions – it is the number of conversions in which non-text display ad impression assisted.

Rich media Assisted Conversions – it is the number of conversions in which rich media interaction assisted.

Rich media interactions include:

  • Click on video play, pause and resume button.
  • Turning a video ad to full screen
  • Expanding an ad

Note(1): Rich media ads are the dynamic image ads (the one which can change/animate). Youtube video ad is an example of rich media ad.

Note(2): Assisted conversions metric that you see in ‘Assisted conversions’ report is not the sum of: Click Assisted Conversions, Impression Assisted Conversions and Rich media Assisted Conversions.

This is because there is usually lot of overlapping of conversion counting among Click Assisted Conversions, Impression Assisted Conversions and Rich media Assisted Conversions.

Assisted conversions metric that you see in ‘Assisted conversions’ report are the conversions other than the last click conversions.

#2 You will see a new drop down menu in all of your multi-channel funnel reports (except the overview report) called the ‘Interaction Type’:assisted conversions

The ‘Interaction Type’ menu contains following interactions (touch points):

#1 Impression (unclicked non-text display ad impression )

#2 Click (or ad click)

#3 Direct

#4 Rich Media

#3 In the ‘Top Conversion’ paths report, you may see following two new touch points/interactions in conversion paths:

  1. Static image display impression (denoted by eye icon)
  2. Rich media display impression (denoted by video icon)

display impression interaction

Without GDN impression reporting, this conversion path may look like the one below:

standard conversion path

Thus without GDN impression reporting, your conversion paths may contain missing touch points and you may not get true picture of your customers’ purchase journey.

Through ‘Interaction Type’ menu, you can filter ‘top conversion path’ report based on how users interacted with your display ads:

top conversion paths

‘Impression’ Interactions/Touch Points

When you select ‘impression’ from the ‘Interaction Type’ drop down menu, you can see all the conversion paths in which unclicked non-text display ad impressions assisted.

In other words, you can see all the conversion paths in which users completed a conversion on your website after viewing (but not clicking) your non-text display ads.

‘Click’ Interactions/Touch Points

When you select ‘click’ from the ‘Interaction Type’ drop down menu, you can see all the conversion paths in which non-text display ad clicks assisted.

In other words, you can see all the conversion paths in which users completed a conversion on your website after clicking on your non-text display ads.

‘Direct’ Interactions/Touch Points

When you select ‘direct’ from the ‘Interaction Type’ drop down menu, you can see all the conversion paths in which unclicked non-text display ad impressions resulted in direct conversions on your website.  

In other words, you can see all the conversion paths in which users visited your website directly and completed a conversion on your website after viewing (but not clicking) your non-text display ads.

‘Rich media’ Interactions/Touch Points

When you select ‘rich media’ from the ‘Interaction Type’ drop down menu, you can see all the conversion paths in which rich media interactions assisted.

In other words, you can see all the conversion paths in which users completed a goal conversion on your website after interacting with your rich media ads.

Note: If you have not set up Rich media ads, then you won’t see ‘Rich Media’ interaction option in the ‘Interaction Type’ drop down menu.

 

#4 After GDN impression reporting is enabled, your ‘Time Lag‘ multi channel funnel report will contain the ‘interaction type’ drop down menu through which you can filter this report, based on how users interacted with your display ads:

time lag report

The ‘Time Lag’ report is used to determine how long it takes (in terms of number of days) for users to complete a conversion on your website.

Through ‘interaction type’ drop down menu, you can choose to select only ‘impression’ interaction and can determine, how long it took (in terms of number of days) for users to convert on your website after viewing your display (but without clicking on it).

For example, when I selected only ‘Impression’ interaction from ‘interaction type’ drop down menu, I concluded from the ‘Time Lag’ report that, it usually takes 12-30 days for user to convert on my website after viewing my display ads (but without clicking on them).

time lag in days

This is the kind of insight, you can get from ‘Time Lag’ report once you have enabled GDN impression reporting.

#5 Similarly, after GDN impression reporting is enabled, your ‘Path Length‘ multi channel funnel report will contain the ‘interaction type’ drop down menu through which you can filter this report, based on how users interacted with your display ads:

path length report

The ‘Path Length’ report shows how many interactions/touch points it took for users to complete a conversion on your website. 

Through ‘interaction type’ drop down menu, you can choose to select say only ‘Rich Media’ interaction and can determine, how long it took (in terms of number of interactions) for users to convert on your website after viewing your Rich media display ads (but without clicking on them).

This is the kind of insight, you can get from ‘Path Length’ report once you have enabled GDN impression reporting.

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Himanshu Sharma

Certified web analyst and founder of OptimizeSmart.com

My name is Himanshu Sharma and I help businesses find and fix their Google Analytics and conversion issues. If you have any questions or comments please contact me.

  • Over eleven years' experience in SEO, PPC and web analytics
  • Google Analytics certified
  • Google AdWords certified
  • Nominated for Digital Analytics Association Award for Excellence
  • Bachelors degree in Internet Science
  • Founder of OptimizeSmart.com and EventEducation.com

I am also the author of three books:

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